Treat Yourself: The Psychology Behind An Unproductive Day
Because you and I know how an unproductive day tastes like
You wake up in the morning and it’s difficult to get out of bed. But the clock is ticking and you know you have to get up—so you do. There’s work to be done, so you get yourself ready. You sit down on your chair and you turn on your laptop, but you just aren’t feeling it today. The clock keeps ticking. Before you know it, it’s time to take your lunch break and then the day is done.
What did you get ~done~ though? Barely anything, except keep refreshing your social media accounts hoping that someone—anyone—updated their IG stories or shared a new meme.
That, friends and strangers, is an unproductive day. And I know we’ve all had them (pandemic or no pandemic).
How many unproductive days do we have?
There’s a theory put forth that everyone succumbs to at least two really unproductive days in the month when absolutely nothing gets done; the rest of the days are excellent or simply average. But let’s get more specific: an excellent day is when you hammer out the items on your to-do list one by one and finish them, an average day is when you get through 3 out of four tasks and an unproductive day is when you get zero things done.
What makes an unproductive day?
This same proposition says there are nine main reasons why we have unproductive days. Maybe we’re not doing so well on energy management, the work is just too overwhelming or we’re physically not feeling our best. It could be that our tasks just inherently play on our weaknesses, we’re getting an influx of interruptions or we insist on multi-tasking. Maybe it’s that we’re lacking a proper flow throughout the day and its throwing us off, we’re lacking in willpower or something happens that’s really just out of our control (power lines break, an emergency situation comes along, etc.).
I personally think that we should round that number up to 10 with the inclusion of “People sometimes suck and I want to get away from them.”
The risk of an unproductive day
Too much of anything will inevitably become a bad thing eventually. And while an unproductive day can sometimes slide through and blur amongst the rest of the days, the risk is a day turning into a week and that week turning into a month. As the days drag on, it gets harder to pull yourself out of that rut and then you—for lack of a better term—are fucked. Soon the to-do list will be too overwhelming and you’ll get anxious and the vicious cycle continues on.
Snap yourself out of it!
There are many ways to put an unproductive day behind you. Experts suggest getting regular sleep, switching up your work environment, learning how to prioritize your tasks and an overall better management of time. They also throw in playing on your strengths and taking breaks. The hope is that these things will shake off the unproductive mood and kick you into gear.
And while these are great pieces of advice and I am no expert, I think giving yourself a treat once a while serves as a good motivation tool for me. It can be anything from a cigarette break to a good cup of coffee, a funny YouTube video or a new bag of chips. You can always try what the experts suggest and if they work for you than great, but I also know that being stuck in a rut will need more than 8-hours of sleep to fix. Understand yourself, learn what gets you going and treat yourself to that.
Just, you know, make it attainable. Otherwise, a string of unproductive days then becomes your new normal.
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver